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  1. #1

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    Phillip Mills: "Ashley Wagner and I have decided to go in different directions"

    Phil Hersh tweeted earlier this afternoon:
    "Given the sports news of the day, this is of minor consequence, but here is how choreographer Phillip Mills explained his split from @ashwagner10":

    April 15, 2013

    Ashley Wagner and I have decided to go in different directions. Having worked with the greatest coaches and skaters over thirty years and having a very clear system on what works to make an elite skater successful I have made this decision. Being able to be at the boards and get Ashley to skate like I knew she could at the World Team Trophy was a wonderful way to wind down our relationship.

    We each had a different focus for the upcoming Olympic season. I believe that each choreographer’s program is a work of art that needs to be kept in its original form. I wouldn’t want anyone to change my art and I just would not make changes to someone else’s work. Ashley and I have accomplished so much in the past three years and I’ve enjoyed working with her as her coach and choreographer. This decision opens new opportunities for both of us. I wish her all the best.
    ETA: This news was originally posted in the "What strategy should Ashley Wagner pursue for the Olympic year?" thread in the Trash Can forum by kwanette but I thought it merited its own thread in GSD.
    Last edited by Sylvia; 04-15-2013 at 11:17 PM.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  2. #2
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    Gracie should go to Mills now that he's left Ashley.

  3. #3
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    Mirai...... goooooooo please........

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    While I'm surprised of this news, I do wonder how Ashley will develop under a different choreographer. Phillip created great programs for her but I always felt there was something missing with the choreography. Sometimes missing the moment of the music. Maybe that was the way Ashley performed them but considering there really wasn't much change in her programs this year-besides jump layout-I can't image she changed any of his choreography.

    I'm excited to see what her programs will look like next year. Though I'm worried about a full coaching change if Mr. Nicks does retire.

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    It would be really odd for Mr Nicks to retire (again?) at the beginning of the Oly season, when he's got such a promising skater. I do think the statement by Mills is a bit....pointed. Who knows what went into the decision, but I hope Ashley is able to find someone who can give her good programs that emphasize her strengths the way that Mills' did.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jammers View Post
    Gracie should go to Mills now that he's left Ashley.
    I believe Mill's statement is a lot of bs. Perhaps the Gold team was courtin' Mr. Mills previous to his decision? If so, that's really crappy....

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    His comment seems to really be dissing Ashley without trying to diss her. Skaters change programs over the season all the time. He is paid handsomely and gives this choreography to Ashley. It is hers to do with as she pleases. She couldn't have changed it that much, just looking back at her first competitions proves that it hasn't evolved that much. I understand he doesn't want his name attached to something if it is going to be totally different from what he intended but there is no evidence that happened here. I am really confused by this and he didn't need to make this kind of statement. It will only look that much more odd if he ends up working with Ashley's big US competition (Mirai, Gold, etc.).
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

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    Having heard Mill's interview with Manleywoman, I'd say changing his programs is oneof his pet peeves, so not a diss to Ashley as he has made it clear what he dislikes.

    Over the season I do think that there were little things in Ashley's lp that got taken out though no major changes from the first one in Japan Open---though I wouldnt know what the original chor would look like

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    Could it have been an issue of her wanting to loosen up his choreo to make it easier to try to get a 3/3 in, hmm, I'm making this up as I go along...but maybe he thought the program was more important than the jump content. I'm sorry he's going, as I loved his work for her.

  10. #10
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    It didn't sound like he was talking about this year's programs. He's referring to their different views for the upcoming Olympics season. To me, it sounded like he wanted to create something great artistically while she wanted to go the safe route and focus of maximizing her points and doing something she's comfortable with.

    And I think it's great he'd rather not make money than cash a check for a program he knows will be watered down and won't represent his vision. Other great choreographers should follow suit, maybe then their reputation as a choreographer will reflect their true talents *Cough Lori Nichol Cough*

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    I think it depends entirely on the creator. I once went to a panel discussion of three authors whose books were made into films. James Ellroy said of his "LA Confidential," I signed the contract, I cashed the check, and it's theirs. (He did sound pleased with the result, though,-- it was the 1997 version about which he spoke -- if somewhat surprised.) Dorothy Allison was far more protective of her book, "Bastard out of Carolina" -- not surprising, given the subject, which was at least somewhat autobiographical -- and Angelica Houston had to pursue her for quite a long time to even get her to consider it, and she had many conditions. (The third person wasn't very interesting, and I can't remember who he is or what he said.)

    I know its not exactly the same thing as choreography, because the original still stands, no matter how mis-representational the film is, but I've heard similar analogies among dance choreographers, some of whom are willing to cash the check and make concessions to the dancers who change the choreography to make it easier or more suitable.
    "The team doesn't get automatic capacity because management is mad" -- Greg Smith, agile guy

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    When I heard Phillip Mills' interview on Manleywoman's podcast a while ago, I loved his fiery attitude. He said in the interview that he does not like to see his creation messed with too much, to the extent that he would quit working with some people who have no respect for the choreography. I got the sense that he takes his work seriously and views each program as a whole, coherent piece of art that should not be chopped up or watered down.

    Given today's judging system and the increasing demand for jump difficulty at the cost of everything else, people like Mills are becoming rarer all the time. It puts people who care something besides jumps in a difficult position.

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    and here i thought Ashley was going to choose Mills as a coach after Nicks retired. And then get choreography from someone else.

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    Hmm. So, perhaps Ashley's new coach is someone who cannot help tweaking choreography? Who will that be?

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    Um, i dont get this. When a skater "buys" choreography from a choreographer, what makes the choreographer think that the skaters input or the coaches input is no longer relevant? Take Michelle Kwan. She completely reworked if you can loosely use that word the choreography that Christopher Dean did for Bolero. You dont see him crying about it. She also reworked a lot of Lori's choreography as she got more seasoned. She TOTALLY reworked Sarah K's choreography of her Olympic program in 2002 and you dont see any of them gridlocking Kwan out. This to me; this business of not altering the choreography from its original state is silly, immature and quite pompous of Phillip.

    This is music to my ears however because i personally believe that Phillips choreography was just not that great for Ashley. The transitions were not seamless and quite frankly there was a lot of stroking in her numbers that she paid for in her scores. The movements were at times disjointed and ACTUALLY the numbers looked BETTER as the season went on and modifications were made.

    As to suggestions or predictions, i dont have many. Whomever she goes too will display her the way they THINK they want her to look. I actually would like to see her with someone like Sarah Karahawra but she's so avante guarde and different that I think that Ashleys depth might not quite be able to handle her. Tarasova does generic choreography for most skaters except Mao so NO. Zueva really does kater to girly girl type of skaters and Ashley is more of a gritty powerful girl. I have a feeling that she's going to be calling Wilson or Nichol for help which i'm on the fence about. Neither of them will try and take her outside of her comfort zone too far in such an important year. I would lean more on the Wilson side of things than Lori just because i think his style is most similar to Phillip Mills of the two and most likely more easy for Ashley to get used too. A cool short program by Shae Lynn would be nice for her and something more traditional by Wilson for the free would be great as well. Just my 2 cents.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigB08822 View Post
    His comment seems to really be dissing Ashley without trying to diss her.
    I disagree. Mills seemed to be trying his best to make it painfully obvious that he was dissing Ashley. No subtlety there.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by arakwafan2006 View Post
    completely reworked if you can loosely use that word the choreography that Christopher Dean did for Bolero. You dont see him crying about it..
    Really? I thought he threw a hissy fit? I could be misremembering but I thought he complained to one of the European skating magazines about her taking out all the intricate details and just doing crossovers and jumps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigB08822 View Post
    I am really confused by this and he didn't need to make this kind of statement. It will only look that much more odd if he ends up working with Ashley's big US competition (Mirai, Gold, etc.).
    uh huh............

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by demetriosj View Post
    I believe Mill's statement is a lot of bs. Perhaps the Gold team was courtin' Mr. Mills previous to his decision? If so, that's really crappy....
    Egads! nah... i don't like this combination. If anything, Zueva considering she works so closely with Oleg Epstein and He works with Gracie. After watching the WTT, i can see a growth in Gracie that lets me know she is somewhat paying attention to the need to really be aware of what the music is asking for emotionally. At the end of the day asking her to be some powerhouse emotionally however might be like asking a 3rd year high school French student to read an entire French news paper lol. I know that the analogy is drastic but Gracie is only on year 1 of being on the Sr. international circuit. She needs time. The timer on her oven is not necessarily set for Sochi!

    When i listen to Frank Carrol talk about how amazing Michelle was in the position of her head, fingers, line etc, I just dont know if we'll be saying the same about any of the girls on the circuit now. Mao Asada was always a beautiful skater but she really never skated to the music so well until after mentorship with Tarasova. Her choreography was always beautiful but it took a while AND Mao is older than Gracie and though she's my personal favorite, even she leaves some people cold. Anyhow, i just want to enjoy this upcomming season. I wish Gracie the best.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by demetriosj View Post
    I believe Mill's statement is a lot of bs. Perhaps the Gold team was courtin' Mr. Mills previous to his decision? If so, that's really crappy....
    Huh? It seems like some people want to blame everything on Gracie even if it's a situation she is not involved in.

    I thought John Nicks had already clarified that he does not intend to retire until after next season. I don't think Ashley has anything to worry about.

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